Thursday, 1 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Wounding Raunds

Central Searchers Metal Detecting Club ("Organising Club Digs and Metal Detecting Rallies") is organizing another one:
We have permission to search 140 acres of land, now all rolled and drilled flat, the land has all been ploughed since we visited last year. The site records host, a Bronze Age Henge which was excavated back in the 90’s as part of “The Raunds Area Project” there is (sic) also Iron Age round houses and ring ditches recorded from air photography, the site sits next to an old Roman track which we park on, this track was later used to link the deserted village of Mallows Cotton to the deserted village of West Cotton which then linked to Raunds (or Rants as it was in the Doomsday Book). [...] There are references to a small hoard of Republican Denari being found on the land by Victorian Antiquarians. [...] The snack van will be in attendance for those that wish to use it.

Who knows if any archaeologists will?

The Raunds Project (see here):

Raunds area survey, an archaeological study of the landscape of Raunds, Northamptonshire 1985-94 [Stephen Parry, 2006]
The present volume gathers the results of a detailed fieldwalking survey, cropmark analysis, magnetometer surveys and excavations, accompanied by allied environmental and documentary researches to provide a dynamic picture of landscape development. The study considers the distribution of worked flint scatters and has identified favoured locations for prehistoric activity. A model for the gradual intensification of settlement and land-use throughout the Iron Age and Roman period including greater exploitation of the Boulder Clay plateau is suggested. 

Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscape in Northamptonshire: Volume 1 – The Raunds Area Project [Jan Harding, Frances Healy, 2008]

Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscape in Northamptonshire: Volume 2 - Supplementary studies [Jan Harding, Frances Healy (Editors). 2011]

The Raunds Area Project Field Survey: A GIS Analysis on the Pottery Distribution  [Frederica A. Massagrande, 1991]

Raunds : the origin and growth of a midland village, AD 450-1500 : excavations in north Raunds, Northamptonshire 1977-87 [Michel Audouy, Paul Blinkhorn , 2009]

West Cotton, Raunds: a study of medieval settlement dynamics, AD 450-1450 : Excavation of a Deserted Medieval Hamlet in Northamptonshire, 1985-89  [Andy Chapman, Umberto Albarella, Marion Archibald -2010]

So archaeologists spent over a decade doing fieldwork and then more than a decade analysing and publishing the results, and coming up with a lot of new information about the development of the landscape. That there is something for artefact hunters to find shows that there is stuill evidence preserved in the field from which the project could be revisited at a future date and its resuilts verified by new techniques, new questions asked. It should be noted that a very important element of the project was the examination of SURFACE evidence - the very evidence that is the first to be remobved when artefact hunters hoover the area in a random search for geegaws to collect. And that is exactly what they are doing, no amount of reporting and recording of finds made in such a loose manner can ever produce the kind of evidence recovered at Raunds through systematic survey, metal detecting the sites in this complex (sites, be it noted that can be pinpointed by artefact hunters because of the publication of the archaeological survey). Anything less is destruction of evidence for future study. When a Central Searcher pops his clogs, he may leave behind a few boxes of finds, some scribbled "it wuz there" notes, but that is no substitute for properly conducted and adequately documented survey. Central Searching these sites will produce little useful new information about new sites (thus removing the usual PAS-supporter prop), little useful information about known sites, but will instead be ereoding the evidence content of both.

What do you reckon? How many Central Searchers will have read (and understood) the publications listed above to provide an informed background to their own activities on these sites? 

What actually have we all learnt from several years intensive "metal detecting" by Central Searchers of the Raunds Project area? Maybe the PAS would like to tell us what their "partners" have achieved here.

Vignette: English Heritage's "Metal Detectorists' Guide to the Raunds Area, in the Facilitating Plundering the PASt Series - ("Where to Search, and Where Not To Bother"). 

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